Roadtrip Postcards: Four Corners

Before we delve deeper into our Colorado adventures, let’s back up to the moment we first entered the state.

Our original roadtrip itinerary called for us to head from Arizona into New Mexico and try our hand at the most classic roadtrip drive of them all: Route 66. Of course, Route 66 actually extends all the way from Chicago to Santa Monica, but the stretch through northern New Mexico is the really iconic bit.

However, we were starting to realize the necessity of cutting out long detours in favor of seeing more on the road ahead, so we decided to forego gettin’ our kicks and instead just dip our toes into New Mexico before carrying on to Colorado.

Though the Four Corners of course marks the spot where four different states meet, the entrance is actually in New Mexico (hey, we got a picture of the state sign – yet another one more exciting than Colorado’s – so it counts).

Four Corners, USA | A Life Exotic

It’s also where Skyler came to try and work through her crisis of identity and decide whether or not she could cut and run… but things kept coming up Albuquerque for her (Breaking Bad reference, Mom).

The Four Corners marker is in the middle of a big open pavilion, a little like some of the monuments in DC. During the daytime, there are booths all around the perimeter where (mostly) locals sell Native American art and jewelry as a little extra boost to their economy – the Four Corners is another landmark that sits on land belonging to the Navajo, Hopi, and other tribes. These were all closed when we were there as it was just before sunset, and there were only a couple of other visitors milling around.

This worked to our advantage, since it was a piece of cake to get the coveted “I’m in four states at once” shot! Check out Amity showing off her geographical prowess:

Four Corners, USA | A Life Exotic

After a loop around the pavilion and a few minutes snapping our photos and reading the plaques, we looked at each other for a moment. What now?

The Four Corners is one of those funny spots that doesn’t actually have much significance other than what we’ve attributed to it ourselves. It’s a pretty nondescript patch of desert that happens to be where the land surveyors of old got tired of creating all those wonky wiggly state borders and decided to keep things simple. And for this, all American seventh graders forced to continually take the states quiz until they get it perfect thank them.

Truthfully, there isn’t much to do there other than stand in four states at once. Don’t get me wrong – this is totally worth the draw. It’s a really cool stop, albeit a quick one. Go and fulfill your A Walk to Remember fantasies times two!

And obviously I’m still deeply hurt that TOMS never reposted my #TravelingTOMS photo. Because this is for sure the coolest one out there.

The Details: $5 entry fee per person | Open year-round | Website HERE

Roadtrip Postcards: Monument Valley

What springs to mind when you think of that great American frontier, the Wild West? Probably gunslingers, gold prospectors, cowboys and cattle drivers, all riding off into a desert sunset. And what do you picture as the backdrop for just about every one of these scenes? I’m guessing something like this:

Monument Valley, USA | A Life Exotic

After our gallivant through Lower Antelope Canyon, we had a long haul through mostly-empty Arizona desert. Even though it wasn’t nearly as eventful as some other bits, this was one of my favorite stretches of driving because it was so quintessential to our roadtrip. Sometimes it seems like the world is so small now and just about every corner of it is filled in, built up, and populated. It was incredible to witness firsthand the fact that there are still vast stretches of wilderness where you can drive for hours without passing another car.

This was also the ideal southwest that I was hoping to see, and which had previously been so foreign to me. We actually saw tumbleweeds blowing across our path, and even a huge bleached animal skeleton laying next to the road!

Monument Valley, a stretch of desert that straddles the border between Utah and Arizona, is basically the poster for every Western movie you’ve ever seen. “This town ain’t big enough for the two of us” and all that.

Monument Valley, USA | A Life Exotic

Like Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley is situated on Navajo Tribal Park land and contains some of the most beautiful and iconic geographical features in the southwest.

We went for the true roadtrip option and just took our time on the scenic drive through the valley, although you can also stop to explore hiking trails in the area or even have a tour guide take you offroading in a Jeep right up next to the buttes and mesas (now that’s something to go back for!).

This twenty-mile stretch of open road was just a blip on our overall route. However, it was one of those moments where I just thought, “Yep. This is exactly what I was going for.” All those months (years, honestly) of daydreaming about someday taking on the Great American Roadtrip – this is the kind of place and the kind of feeling I was chasing.

Kokapelli thought it was pretty cool, too, so we just had to send you these postcards!

Monument Valley, USA | A Life Exotic

Roadtrip Postcards: Horseshoe Bend

A few of the stops on our roadtrip were pretty brief. No hours spent wandering through national parks, no extensive hikes or day-long excursions, just a few moments to snap some photos, look around, and drink it all in. Stop, snap, marvel, move on.

I’m going to sprinkle a few of these mini-posts among the rest of the roadtrip fun, with just two or three photos each. Imagine they’re postcards I sent to you from the road and that this is the writing on the back (plus, then I get credit for sending mail).

Horseshoe Bend was a last minute stop. The evening before we visited Antelope Canyon, we reached Page, Arizona with an hour or so of daylight left. After a quick search on Roadtrippers to see what was around, we realized that this exciting spot was just a few miles away. A brief hike over the sandy hill, and we reached the overlook right at sunset.

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona | A Life Exotic

I’d seen plenty of Pinterest photos of Horseshoe Bend – I won’t link to them here because it would only draw unfair comparison to my own, but people have done some pretty incredible things with a wide-angle lens here – but they did not prepare me for the sheer magnitude of this spot. Even in these photos, you can’t quite get a sense of how truly gigantic it is. It’s a 1000-foot drop from our vantage point to the Colorado River below. That’s about three St Paul’s Cathedrals stacked on top of each other.

Basically, imagine standing on top of the Chrysler Building with no guard rails or barriers. Gulp.

I used to delight in making my poor mother shriek by jumping hard on frozen lakes or dangling my feet over crazy cliffs (sorry, Mum), but I’m losing that in my old age and becoming terribly practical instead. Needless to say, I inched up pretty close, but didn’t go all the way to the edge.

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona | A Life Exotic

A few intrepid explorers were more fearless than I, and clambered up and over the rocks to our right to get a different view of the bend. I loved the sight of these two solitary figures standing in front of this wild rocky backdrop and silhouetted against the dusky sky.

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona | A Life Exotic

The fiery sunset was casting colors over the red rocks and sand, and made the whole landscape look like the saturation was turned up to eleven (anyone?).

Horseshoe Bend was one of my favorite bits of the trip for many reasons – one among them being that it was our only sighting of the Colorado River, and what western roadtrip would be complete without that?

Check your mailbox soon – more roadtrip postcards will be coming your way!

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